Merck and Pfizer Join Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Collaboration

BioXcel Therapeutics, Inc. (“BTI”) announced the addition of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates its biopharmaceutical business as EMD Serono in the USA and Canada, and Pfizer its Nektar Therapeutics clinical collaboration to evaluate a novel triple combination therapy in pancreatic cancer. The collaboration now includes avelumab, BXCL701 and NKTR-214 as a potential combination therapy for pancreatic cancer. Avelumab is a human anti-programmed death ligand (PD-L1) co-developed and co-commercialized by Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer. BXCL701 is an orally-available systemic innate-immune activator that inhibits dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP) 8/9 and FAP developed by BTI. NKTR-214 is a CD122-biased agonist developed by Nektar. BTI is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical development company utilizing novel artificial intelligence approaches to identify the next wave of medicines across neuroscience and immuno-oncology.

Under the collaboration, BTI will be responsible for initiating and managing the clinical program, with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer supplying avelumab and Nektar supplying NKTR-214. BTI and Nektar will equally share all development costs. The primary objectives of the study are to evaluate safety and efficacy of the triple combination of BXCL701, NKTR-214 and avelumab for the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. Additionally, correlative immune activation markers will be evaluated in blood and tumor tissue.

We are excited to welcome Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer as partners for the development of this novel triple combination regimen with Nektar. We believe that the expansion of this clinical collaboration provides clear evidence of industry enthusiasm toward BXCL701. We look forward to working closely with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer as well as Nektar to leverage their clinical and regulatory expertise as we establish the development plan for the triple combination in pancreatic cancer,

said Vimal Mehta,
Chief Executive Officer of BTI.

We believe it is essential to target multiple dimensions of the immune system in parallel to address the multi-faceted etiologies underlying cancer cell growth in difficult-to-treat tumors such as pancreatic cancer. This experimental triple combination regimen of BXCL701, NKTR-214 and avelumab is designed to leverage multiple mechanisms of action to better fight pancreatic cancer while potentially generating long-term cancer immunity. We’re pleased to be working with BTI as well as Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer on this program,

said Jonathan Zalevsky,
Chief Scientific Officer of Nektar Therapeutics.

SOURCE: BioXcel Therapeutics


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